A superstar and cultural icon in his native Japan, Takeshi "Beat" Kitano has conquered more than one medium, but he is best known in the West for his remarkable films. Among those, Fireworks is the clear favorite, a taut a... more »nd enigmatic noir that fluctuates between perfect stillness and savage eruptions of violence.Kitano plays a cop named Nishi, a determinedly impassive man whose face occasionally ripples with an involuntary tic, hinting at the explosive but contained forces within. Nishi's wife (Kayato Kishimoto) is dying of leukemia, a disease that already killed their child, and he cares for her with a shattering tenderness. While on a stakeout, Nishi takes a break to check in on her, and while he's gone his partner is crippled and another officer is killed. With death hovering at home and a score to settle outside, Kitano's hero sets off on an isolated course to seek justice.Few filmmakers have understood as well as Kitano has here the irresistible draw of a thriller told with a moody calmness, with an eye toward graceful construction and rigorous composition. The careful, unhurried dispensing of story information also helps keep the focus on Nishi's warrior soul, on his mysterious capacity for the extremes of gentleness and brutality. The story here is the way one man can be the sum of such bold contradictions, and a great story it is. --Tom Keogh« less
""Fireworks" is a direct translation of the Japanese title "Hanabi," which combines the two words "fire" and "flower." The title was chosen due to the juxtaposition of the calm beauty of a flower, and the burning intensity of fire, which perfectly captures the feeling of this Beat Takeshi masterpiece. I was expecting quite a different film, one more packed with violence and action, something more along the lines of a John Woo/Chow Yun Fat creation. Instead, this is a calm, understated and emotional film peppered with miniature explosions like...fireworks. The pacing of the film is typical of Japanese storytelling, patient and quiet allowing enough time for a story to build fully and characters to live and die on the screen.Takeshi gives such a complete performance, saying everything with a glance or a movement. Dialog is almost unnecessary, although when it does come it punctuates the scene fluently. He is equal parts warrior and lover, tender and hard. Kayoko Kishimoto delivers an equally wonderful performance as Miyuki, Nishi's wife, dying of leukemia yet able to charm with a smile.Visually, the movie is stunning, full of creative scenes and transitions. Takeshi knows when to have the action appear off-camera, and when to focus. The use of nature as an element in the film is beautiful, as the story moves from snow to sea to mountain.Takeshi "Beat" Kitano is one of Japan's greatest modern filmmakers, and "Fireworks" is one of his greatest film. A stunning film."
Edward Lee | 12/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While some viewers may find FIREWORKS slightly inaccessible, others will clearly be drawn into Takeshi Kitano's brilliant use of sight, sound, and silence to tell this intensely layered story of ex-cop Nishi -- haunted equally by a violent past and an uncertain future with a wife slowly dying of Leukemia.Having taken an unauthorized break from his police stakeout, Nishi's long-time partner Hirobe is attacked, an event which leaves him paralyzed. Struggling with his guilt, Nishi leaves the police force to spend time caring for his ailing wife. He wants her final days to be the best he can possibly provide, and this leads him to a series of bad choices made involving the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). However, every attempt to bring balance to his life only drives Nishi deeper and deeper into desperation and desperate acts ... all the while maintaining the calm, cool exterior of man with his own sense of justice behind his purpose.This film is meticulously constructed: each of every scene has purpose, and many of them serve several. As is common to Kitano's films, moments of pure calm are juxtaposed with percussive scenes of unanticipated violence in a way very few films have successfully captured and managed to maintain a message."
Outstanding movie, but this DVD is CUT!!!!!
C. Garcia | Henderson, NV | 04/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fireworks (released internationally as "Hana-Bi") was the seventh film directed by Takeshi Kitano, Japanese comedian, novelist, essayist, short story writer, poet, critic, musician, cartoonist, painter and filmaker. Kitano (always credited as "Beat" Takeshi as an actor) wrote the screenplay and stars as Nishi, a tough cop struggling to cope with the recent death of his daughter while caring for his leukemia stricken wife. One day, at his partner's urging, he takes a break from a stakeout to visit his wife at the nearby hospital where she's being treated. In his absence, things go terribly wrong; his partner is left crippled and another officer is killed.Kitano plays Nishi like a man holding the weight of the world on his shoulders, struggling to maintain composure in the wake of a tragedy that has shattered the lives of people close to him. The quiet dignity with which he carries himself is compromised only by an occasional facial tic, which we see while he listens to his ex-partner reveal that his family abandoned him after the shooting and later when the dead officer's widow pours her heart to him about the emotional and financial difficulties of raising her daughter alone.Hoping to make his wife's final days more pleasant, he borrows money from a local Yakuza, but when he falls behind on the interest payments, he becomes the subject of harrassment and threats. Determined to correct everything that's gone wrong, Nishi decides to rob a bank to pay back the Yakuza and take care of his wife, ex-partner and the widow of the slain officer. The situation escalates out of control, resulting in an understated, but powerful climax.This film won the Golden Lion award for Best Picture at the 1997 Venice International Film Festival and propelled Kitano to the forefront of Japanese cinema. It's considered by many critics and fans to be Kitano's best movie, though I consider his 2002 release "Dolls" (unavailable on U.S. DVD) to be a strong contender for that distinction.Now, the problem with this DVD. The transfer itself is fine. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with clear, well translated subtitles and some nice features. However, the disc is inexplicably missing aproximately 4 minutes of footage. Why a company like New Yorker Films, which specializes in art house releases, would release a truncated version of such a seminal work, is anyone's guess, but American companies have not been kind to Kitano's works. Any DVD released stateside of his films has a much better version overseas. I strongly urge anyone interested in this film to look for the uncut Korean special edition DVD (under the original title "Hana-Bi"), which is NTSC and region free (despite being labled Region 3 on the box)), so it will play on any North American DVD player. It has excellent subtitles and even costs a few dollars less than the incomplete American version."
Film's Violence Secondary to "Beat" Kitano's Performance
William L Cassidy | Las Vegas, NV United States | 09/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Takeshi "Beat" Kitano shares Michael Caine's mastery of understatement, non-verbal clue, and eye contact. If you're looking for a cinema actor of the first rank, Kitano is the man, and "Fireworks" displays him at the top of his form. Usually hyped for its violence, "Fireworks" could just as easily be classed as a study in tenderness. Kitano's self-sacrifice for his crippled partner and dying wife is the true theme of this picture. This 1997 Venice Film Festival Grand Prize Winner is a fine introduction to Kitano's work. I was so struck by this work that I viewed it three times in a row - first for the initial impression, second to study Kitano's direction, and last to revel in his technical mastery of the actor's craft. I advice you to do the same."
C. Garcia | 07/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Never in my life had I seen such a film, and I see almost three or four films a week. When it finished, I couldn`t stop crying for about fifteen minutes. It was so intensive, powerful and emotive that we only can thanks Kitano for making movies like this. At the beggining of his carrer, Kitano was compared with Eastwood, but watching this film makes me think of another genious: Melville, and his masterwork, The Samurai. The movie is not only about Kitano's particular point of view about death and goodbyes. More important, it's about loyalty to the ones who are close to any of us, the only important moral rule that guides the film. I have only one recommendation: see the film as many times as you can"